How to Display File Sizes in Megabytes (MB) Easily in Linux


The ls command is a vital tool for Linux users managing their files and directories. While the default output provides useful information, customizing it to display file sizes in a more understandable format can significantly enhance your file navigation experience. This comprehensive guide covers two essential aspects: understanding file sizes with ls and a specialized approach using ls -h --block-size=M to showcase file sizes in megabytes. Let’s dive into the world of ls customization!

Understanding File Sizes in ls:

By default, ls expresses file sizes in bytes, which may not be the most intuitive format, especially for large files. To bridge this gap, the human-readable option -h can be used to interpret file sizes more easily.

Customizing ls Output with -h:
  1. Basic Usage:
    ls -h
    This command provides a straightforward listing of files and directories with human-readable file sizes.
  2. Detailed Listing:
    ls -lh
    Combining -l for a detailed listing with -h shows sizes in a more readable format.
  3. Sorting by Size:
    ls -lhS
    The -S option sorts files by size, displaying the largest files first.
Advanced Techniques:

For those seeking more customization, integrating ls with other commands like awk or cut allows for tailored outputs. For instance:

ls -lh | awk '{print $5, $9}'

This command utilizes awk to print the file size and name, providing a customized output.

Displaying File Sizes in Megabytes:
  1. Basic Usage:
    ls -h --block-size=M
    This command lists files and directories with file sizes represented in megabytes.
Examples and Usage:
  1. Displaying a Detailed Listing in Megabytes:
    ls -lh --block-size=M
    The -lh combination provides a detailed listing, and --block-size=M ensures sizes are in megabytes.
  2. Sorting and Displaying in Megabytes:
    ls -lhS --block-size=M
    Combining -S for size-based sorting with --block-size=M gives a comprehensive listing with sizes in megabytes.
Making it Permanent:

To make changes permanent, consider updating your shell configuration file (e.g., ~/.bashrc or ~/.zshrc) with an alias like:

alias ls='ls -h --block-size=M'

Now, every time you use ls, file sizes will be displayed in megabytes by default.


Customizing the ls command to display file sizes in megabytes enhances your ability to navigate and manage files efficiently on Linux. Whether you’re a novice or an experienced user, incorporating these options into your workflow will make your file management tasks more intuitive and user-friendly.

By mastering the art of displaying file sizes in megabytes using the ls command, you’ll navigate directories with confidence and gain a deeper understanding of your file system. Happy exploring!